May 16, 2011
A Trifle More than Another Collector's Book
CXIX plates, scattered throughout the text, many with multiple items, as well as a number of tiny cuts inserted in the text.
Rather than being organized on a timeline, the author chose to first discuss styles, beginning with ancient Egyptian, and flitting over the other ancients (often missing the most important items in furniture development) until starting to dig in on the Gothic, then the individual items like chairs, then tables. It's different, but I don't think it's helpful. Styles did not exist somehow separately from the items themselves, and chair styles did not develop independently from tables. The design is usually quite interdependent, and one usually finds the structure of one echoing the other unless you are talking pedestal tables. Even then, the style of ornamentation and woods and finishes used are normally en suite.
The ancient world is distinctly scanted (as it leaves so few actual items) but should have been done up based on the furniture shown in art. The Gothic folding chair is based on a Classical predecessor. The box chair, often considered by such to have developed from extending the sides on the chest, is a copy of the *thronos* or box chair of ancient Greece, whence the term "throne," hm? It was not forgotten and rediscovered, because it continued to exist, expecially in the Byzantine Empire.
Despite this, under Styles there are some good notes on interior decor at any time. Of course, trying to visualise any one time requires skipping all over, though this might be good for collectors who are looking at a chair, turn to Chairs chapter, and flip along looking for one like the one in front of them to confirm dating.
On the very good side, the author is not bound by national lines. Where books on French or English furniture can rarely show an item before 1500, this one includes many surviving Gothic German pieces, giving us examples of armchairs of genuine Gothic style.